Accreditation Series 6: Big News - No More “Regional” Accreditors

November 9, 2021
Accreditation Series 6: Big News - No More “Regional” Accreditors
We provide the licensing and accreditation needed to establish a new university and offer comprehensive guidance throughout the process.

This involves helping our clients understand all the legal and financial requirements around university establishment, as well as providing marketing and branding advice to ensure their university or college stands out from other educational institutions.

Our competitors can only offer a limited service, either licensing or accreditation, as most don't have the skills or team required to provide a turnkey service. This is why EEC stands out from the crowd – we can offer our clients everything they need to get their university off the ground easily and efficiently.
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Are you currently seeking accreditation for your post-secondary institution, and are unable to choose between National or Regional accrediting bodies in the U.S? Are you under pressure due to the regional accreditor assigned to your institution’s region being extremely rigorous and costly?

Well, I’ve got some good news for you. Today, any institution in any U.S State can apply for accreditation with virtually any recognized accreditor out there.

This means regional accreditors will not be exercising monopoly any further. In fact, as of now, there is no such thing as a “regional” accreditor anymore.

What happened? Just recently, the U.S Department of Education has amended the 2019 negotiated rulemaking on postsecondary accreditation, by allowing regional accrediting bodies to be able to accredit anywhere in the United States.

Some Big Changes

This is big news because until this change took place, each of the seven regional accrediting commissions was confined to work within their assigned geographical region. So if you were a college or university in need of accreditation, you only had one option: to apply to the accreditor in the region of your institution.

Department’s goal with this move is simple: to open up the accreditation system to healthy competition. This means that there will no longer be a distinction between national and regional accreditors.

Historically, national accreditors were considered more lenient in comparison to their regional counterparts. This is one of the reasons why many for-profit post-secondary institutions chose to work with national accrediting agencies in the past.

With the new order of things, regional accreditors will be competing not only with each other but also with all national accrediting bodies in the country.

This is a total game-changer because colleges and universities now have more freedom and autonomy over which agency they choose to work with. For instance, if a given university isn’t satisfied with the requirements set by its chosen accreditor, there is always a possibility to shop around.

Accreditors will now operate as true businesses by aiming to provide the best of service and seek clients to be able to survive.

Pros and Cons

There are some arguments for and against this change.

Composition and culture are some of the reasons in support of accreditors remaining regional.

Several regional accreditors have developed valuable expertise and knowledge based on the experience of working with a specific type of institution in their regions. This expertise is reflected in their policies and ways of work. Going national would possibly mean diluting this competence.

Increased growth opportunities are one of the arguments in support of regional accreditors becoming national.

With the current state of things in post-secondary education that shows an increased drop rate in student enrollment, as well as a steady and growing competition by alternative education providers such as edX, Coursera, and Google, some regional commissioners, will find themselves struggling in terms of influence and resources.

An ability to work with a larger scale of institutions from all over the country will provide growth opportunities that could potentially strengthen the impact of regional accrediting bodies.

Regional Accreditors Who Joined The “Movement”

The Higher Learning Commission or HLC has joined other regional accreditors by expanding its offered services across the country in light of federal regulations that went into effect last year.

WASC Senior College and University Commission, or WASC, was the first to announce that it dropped its regional boundaries. Several months later, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities followed suit.

We can confidently predict all regional accreditors in the United States to open their regional boundaries and become national by the end of 2022.

Closing Thoughts

Post-secondary accreditors might be imperfect, but they are certainly a necessity that keeps this industry in order. Without recognized brokers to vouch for academic quality, higher education in the United States could turn into the Wild West.

Regional accrediting bodies now becoming national is great news. We’ve seen how greedy and unreasonable several regional accreditors have become over the years, with some increasing their application fees from $12,000 to a hefty $18,000 in just two years.

As of July 2020, your institution can choose any accreditor, within any region, regardless of your institution’s location when seeking accreditation. So if you had an eye for a regional accreditor that was out of your reach due to geographical boundaries, now’s the time to apply!

And here’s a list of Regional Accrediting Commissions that may come in handy:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

I hope this post in our Accreditation Series was beneficial to you. If you happen to have more questions in regards to accreditation or anything else, please feel free to reach us. Together, we can make your dream of opening a university - a reality!

For personalized guidance, feel free to reach out to Expert Education Consultants via email at with any questions you may have. This service is complimentary.

To explore customized solutions tailored to your specific needs, schedule a personalized one-on-one paid consultation with Dr. Sandra Norderhaug here.

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